Today’s article discusses the benefits of intermittent fasting. A brief history, how we became “the consumer culture” and some training tips.
Last article I share a summary of what happens when you fast. Your body opens 2 metabolic pathways that it will activate when no food is consumed.
These are gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis, the two pathways after lipolysis. These pathways are reciprocally regulated by our body. If glycolysis (sugar breakdown to glucose) is active when we eat our food, then the latter 2 pathways will stop.
A brief history of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting isn’t new and it has existed since the dawn of time of human civilisation. We fasted for religious reasons, cultural celebrations, health benefits and during times of famine.
From then it was ingrained well in human history for centuries up to the early 19th century. Today it is not uncommon to find these quotes still exist:
Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.Hippocrates
Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day. Plutarch
I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency. Plato
The dose makes the poison. Fasting is the greatest remedy – the physician within. Paracelsus
The best of all medicines is resting and fasting. Benjamin Franklin
A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors. Mark Twain
The ancient Greeks, of course, were stout believers of fasting it is a shame today they’re facing the same obesity epidemic as every other country. Unfortunately, their famed Mediterranean diet isn’t the answer. Because many studies on their diet didn’t include the lifestyle and religious fasting of the Greek populace.
If historic civilisation and prominent figures practised fasting where did we go wrong?
Good question, if step back and look at the big picture. I should say things went sideways during the early 19th century when a few well-meaning but misguided individuals made food based on grains.
One of these prominent figures was Sylvester Graham and the other was John Harvey Kellogg – an astute follower of Graham. John’s original invention of the granola and cornflake cereals was so hard and dry that these cracked people’s teeth.
They were so fibrous and processed that it would likely spike insulin levels and give everyone gas. The hidden intention, after all, was to be an anaphrodisiac. Of course, with bouts of severe gastronomical upsets, the last thing people would worry about is their libido.
Things had gotten worse by the turn when William Kellogg the brother of John added sugar to these “cereals” to make them more palatable. It then sprouted the cereal craze. Unfortunately, the creators of these cereals didn’t know what they did to our insulin levels until its discovery 14 years later.
Fast forward from that era modern research didn’t help either. The food and supplement industry gave us every reason not to stop eating even as to go far as claiming “fasting will reduce your metabolism”, “your body will go into starvation mode when you fast”, “your muscles will catabolise when you fast” etc.
In fact, short periods of fasting don’t affect metabolism and in some cases increase it . Muscle loss can be prevented if resistance training is added at some point during or after breaking fast.
So athletes and bodybuilders will be fine if their goal is to trim out stubborn fat.
So why are we told these lies?
It was a misguided belief in the research on the thermic effect of food (Diet-induced thermogenesis, DIT ). DIT only affects 10%-15% of the energy expenditure in certain foods which isn’t enough to burn off in the standard sugar and insulin-spiking grain-based diet. Besides, there is nothing sexy about fasting because food corporations, supplements and the like won’t be able to introduce their products to sell if we don’t buy.
If half of the population stops eating a meal for a few short days of time how much profit is lost?
Now you know that fasting is built within our biology as humans don’t you think it is time for you to restore that balance?
If you do it’s time to start your intermittent fasting training.
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Once you’re used to your 3 meals a day without snacking in between you’re ready to dip into intermittent fasting. We’re following the 16/8 hour fast. There are other fasting protocols which you can try but I find this is the most convenient.
The best meal to skip is actually breakfast.
Wait! Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
Yes, it is, but the word “breakfast” has lost its meaning from the early 19th century from the very words quoted from Kellogg.
You don’t want your first meal of the day to be a hormone-destroying anaphrodisiac? No!?
You need a meal that keeps your metabolism and hormones in balance. That nutritious meal would be around lunchtime because most people think breakfast is bread, milk and cereal. When you “break fast” at lunch it’s usually from 1 pm till 9 pm. Many stores will be open around this time. By then you have plenty of options to pick your healthy foods. This 8-hour timeframe is most suited for office workers.
If you find this hard I suggest adjusting the 8-hour window according to your daily activities. Mine, for example, starts at 4 pm and ends at 12 am.
Again the rule of thumb of this intermitted fasting protocol is flexibility.
Staving off hunger while fasting.
Coffee is one of the well-known beverages that suppresses appetite. Having a cuppa in the morning will reduce those hunger pangs well into lunchtime.
It also comes with good antioxidant properties, so when having a cuppa you’re doing good by neutralising free radicals. But when I say coffee it’s not the 3 in 1 coffee with added cream and sugar. It’s certainly not the bulletproof coffee that includes butter on it.
Black coffee is what I am talking about here and don’t add a teaspoon of sugar, cream or milk. You’ll break your fast.
The good coffee I recommend will be from Moccona, I find the taste not too bitter nor sourish when drinking it black. The Classic flavour is what I highly recommend for now.
If you’re allergic to coffee or not used to its taste the next best option for you would be tea. Like coffee, tea has antioxidant properties that will help with those nasty free radicals. However, you need to get quality tea for this to work and not the tea that comes in tea bags.
Good-tasting quality tea comes from loose tea leaves. Tea bags contain the “dust and fannings” from broken tea leaves. Another factor to address for tea bags is their packaging. Some tea bags that look like mesh are actually made of plastic.
When placed into boiling water these bags won’t melt but could leak harmful phthalates into your tea. These are forms of phthalic acids added to plastics to make them flexible and durable.
Best to steep your tea in teapots made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel that have steel strainers in them. Drink tea on its own, with no sugar and milk added for optimal benefits.
The tea brand I recommend now would be T2 black tea loose-leave variants, these are as effective as green tea.
Chewing gum is another best way to keep those hunger pangs at bay. It serves as a good distraction. All gums are not created equal and most of them have too much added sugars and flavourings in them.
The only chewing gum product I recommend that will keep your hunger in check with low enough cal/KJ that has little effect on your fasting protocol will be sugar-free chewing gums.
Do note that these gums serve as a crutch for your training on intermittent fasting. Just like your training wheels on your bicycle during your childhood. Do not rely on them as the label itself states it is near 7 cal/28kJ each.
You will be better off with tea or black coffee with energy counts of 2 cal/8kJ per cup.
Keeping yourself busy
Another good way to stop thinking about your hunger for no cost is by keeping yourself busy. When a hunger pang strikes sometimes it’s good to take a small walk around the office/neighbourhood.
You could even try to fill in some paperwork, attend meetings, pay the bills or start a conversation that will take your mind on food (p.s Don’t talk about food😉).
Furthering your knowledge on intermittent fasting.
Books that I recommend for further reading that will broaden your knowledge on diet and bring you closer to your health and fitness goals :
|The Leangains Method: The Art of Getting Ripped. Researched, Practiced, Perfected.||The creator of the 16/8 hour fast was one of the books I read when beginning my intermittent fasting journey. Good storylike reading about the author’s journey to getting his perfect 6 pack abs body. PS: He’s a nerd and a Public Health Science Major another reason to read this book. There will be scientific terms on bodybuilding and nutrition so don’t forget your propeller hat. 🤓|
Well, this wraps it up for today’s article on intermittent fasting. If you like my article and training suggestions please don’t forget to share or comment below.